Tag Archives: Ticketing

Rosen Joins Brousseau to Expand Montreal Ticketing Company

14 Oct

Industry veteran Fred Rosen is returning to ticketing, announcing a partnership to expand Outbox Technology, a Montreal-based white-label ticketing provider.

After building Ticketmaster into the most dominant ticketing platform in the world, Rosen said he’s now ready to compete against the giant, which he added is a much different beast than the company he originally helmed.

Rosen is joining forces with Jean-Françoys Brousseau, who created Outbox in 2005 with Cirque du Soleil, the company’s first client. The Montreal Canadiens and the Bell Centre, the team’s home arena, both use Outbox, along with the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles.

“We think the mandate historically that Ticketmaster has fulfilled has shifted for their own reasons and choices. We believe that mandate still needs to be filled,” Brousseau said.

Rosen, who will serve as the CEO of the venture, will be based out of a newly opened L.A. office and has not announced any new hires. He said he spent five months negotiating the partnership with Brousseau before Monday’s announcement of the deal.

“The philosophy is that the Internet has disintermediated the business and venues really don’t need outlets and phones anymore,” he said. “Since everything has gravitated toward the Internet, the next logical extension would be for facilities to be in control of their own destiny, set their own service charges, determine their on sale dates and ultimately have all of the transactions done within their own websites, which will make their websites more valuable.”

Rosen said his company’s platform and the pair’s “ticketing expertise that nobody can match” will be its two main competitive advantages.

Brousseau founded Microflex and Admission Network in Canada, two companies he sold to Ticketmaster. Rosen is best known for his role as the founder and CEO of Ticketmaster, where he served from 1982 to 1998. Since leaving Ticketmaster, Rosen served in management positions at trade show organizer Key3Media, travelling carnival North American Midway Entertainment and AudienceView ticketing, a Canadian-based platform.

“Ticketmaster is not the same company I created,” Rosen said. “When Ticketmaster was created, it was a clearly on the side of the building. It was a revenue stream that the acts could not participate in, and it was clear that the arenas and facilities could hide behind Ticketmaster and vice versa.”

The merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster that was completed earlier this year changed all of that — now it’s unclear whether the company represents the best interests of the building, the artist or the promoter. Rosen called company CEO Irving Azoff the “smartest guy in the music business,” but said it’s not clear he’s on the side of the buildings.

The realignment has meant another opportunity to create a ticketing company “that’s like Switzerland,” Rosen said, later adding, “In the end, do you want someone selling your tickets whose interests aren’t the same as yours?” — Dave Brooks

Interviewed for this article: Fred Rosen and Jean-Françoys Brousseau, (514) 315-1200

From Generational Perks to Ticket Quirks, Arena Managers Cover the Gamut

20 Sep

Representing four of the five generations found in the workplace are, from left, Matt Batson, student, University of Florida, Gainesville; Colleen Byrnes, The Ryan Center, Kingston, R.I.; Ruey Peck, Spalding Basketball Equipment; Kim Bedier, Comcast Arena at Everett (Wash.); Lisa Chamness, Freedom Hall, Johnson City, Tenn.; and Kevin Twohig, Spokane (Wash.) Arena. (VT Photo)

REPORTING FROM TULSA, Okla. — Dealing with generational issues, both with employees and patrons, from tattoos to touch screens, was a running theme through the Arena Management Conference here Sept. 11-14. Communication is a new ballgame throughout the industry strata.

Asked about future trends in the arena world, answers thrown back from attendees included Ping and other technology, more social networking, more family-oriented entertainment, more reality shows on the road, and fewer stairs as an older marketplace rebels at climbing up and down. Kevin Twohig, Spokane (Wash.) Arena, envisioned multi-level arenas where no one had to climb up or down more than six steps, and he was more than half serious. The arena of the future will have larger lobbies, more storage, interactive touch screens everywhere, convenient restrooms, and friendly production capabilities.

Attendance at this year’s AMC totaled 192 including walkups, down from three years ago, but up from last year, according to Brenda Pennington of the International Association of Assembly Managers, which presents the event. The name change to International Association of Venue Managers is under construction, but this event was not so branded.

Kim Bedier, Comcast Arena at Everett (Wash.), moderated the panel on “Best of the Best of Generations A to Z,” noting that there are now four or five generations in one workplace more of the time and that leads to a wider variety of problem-solving techniques and preferences. She identified Traditionalists, born before 1945; Baby Boomers, 1946-1954; Generation X (1955-1977); Generation Y, born after 1977; and the newest, Nexters, aged 18-25 and now entering the workplace. Matt Batson, a student in Hospitality and Tourism at the University of Florida, Gainesville, represented the Nexters on the panel.

Both Matson and Colleen Byrnes, senior event manager, Ryan Center, Kingston, R.I., confirmed that their generations (Brynes qualified as Generation Y) are taught by professors and teachers that it’s normal to have seven jobs. “Every day I’m told you’re not going to find your career with your first job. You always think there is something else out there,” Matson said.

“We’re funky,” Byrnes added, though she has been at Ryan Center for five years, having started as a student. Twohig said he is astounded by that attitude and, as an employer, he has to deal with it every day. “On our staff, there is no issue until we get to the Millennials (born 1980-2000), where we suddenly drop to a 50 percent retention rate. That generation are on their second and third jobs already.” Byrnes added that she went to school to get into this industry and Batson is specializing in event management, but they appear to be the exceptions.

Each generation is defined by the media they use. Nexters have even gotten to the point they express themselves by appearance. One in three now have tattoos or piercings. Employer response varied from Twohig — “I’m not a tattoo fan. In our market it’s not the right impression. It’s a negative to me.” — to Byrnes, “It can’t be visible.”

Ruey Peck, Spalding Basketball Equipment, (Generation X), noted that his firm supplies equipment to the National Basketball Association where “some of the ink on players in unbelievable,” but for professional purposes, they still say, if you have a tattoo, you should be able to cover it up.

“This business is relationship based,” noted Lisa Chamness, Freedom Hall, Johnson City, Tenn., referring to employees and customers and clients. “Your own integrity must be intact.”

Motivating all generations of workers is also relationship based. Byrnes said she sets goals and motivates the event staff with the carrot and the stick. “If you ever want an usher position on the floor, I will consider your record,” she tells them.

“Motivation is in the trust we’re given,” Batson said.

On the client relationship side, Bedier posed the question, “How far will you go?”

Peck said his firm donated basketball equipment to President Barack Obama’s White House because they saw that it meant recognition and opportunity and “it saved the taxpayers money.”

“We’ll buy it, promote or co-promote,” Twohig said. “Right now I’m looking for a rock show for the fall. It’s what our community wants.”

“I’m not above begging,” Chamness said. Hers is a leased facility, she cannot promote, but she brings other value-adds to the table. “We’re willing to go the other step.”

Eschewing the negative, Twohig wrapped it up noting that despite the economic crisis, “we’re having the best year we’ve ever had. It’s a bright time in the industry for us.”

Not for others, though. Bob Skoney, Nashville Municipal Auditorium, and Sue DeVries, Metrapark, Billings, Mont., talked about recovery from floods in Tennessee and tornados in Montana on another panel. Skoney said he spent the week after the floods booking events from his home. Fortunately, though the arena had no power nor entry, he had a backup calendar.

The city is slowly recovering since the May 1 flood, he said. The Schermerhorn Symphony Center hopes to open again by the end of January, having sustained $45 million in damage. The Opry House, with $16 million in damage, opens this month (VT Pulse, Sept. 5), and Municipal Aud was up and running after eight days out of the building.

The tornado in Billlings was June 20, and DeVries said it was the first F2 (scale of intensity) tornado there in 50 years. The 186-acre grounds was hosting events the day after the tornado hit, but the Rimrock Auto Arena, where it did at least $40 million in damage, won’t reopen until April 1, 2011. On the plus side, it will be a much improved arena, DeVries said, with more bathrooms, sound improvements, more than one elevator, additional signage, a new entryway and possibly a new bridge from the parking lot.

Grand openings were also revisited, including Intrust Bank Arena, Wichita, Kan., where Scott Neal, assistant general manager, said lessons learned included knowing what the venue means to the community, scheduling time in the facility before the grand opening (they had two months), managing expectations, and having a good pair of community boots on hand for construction site tours.

Steve Miller, general manager, Huntington Center, Toledo, Ohio, agreed that managing expectations is key. Huntington Center replaced the 1952-era Sports Arena, which had no air conditioning and glass that was four feet tall for hockey. The $105 million facility took 20 months to build and has hosted 425,000 people so far.

Bookings and discounted tickets were the hot topic during the Town Hall for 10,000-plus seat arenas. Some bemoaned Live Nation relations, saying the promoter apparently has “a list” of 70 buildings they regularly do business with and woe to the arena that’s not on the list.

“You have to make a co-pro deal,” said Michael Marion, Verizon Arena, North Little Rock, Ark., in response to the list worries. “Let’s not be coy.”

Marion also noted an increase in experimentation with ticket pricing. “I’m not a fan of discounting, but sometimes it happens,” Marion said.

Several were also not fans of all-in tickets, including most family show producers and those who have a fee-free box office option. Most so-called “all-in” prices are still advertising the base price on the Ticketmaster web site and there has to be at least one place where buyers can pay that price, many attendees opined.

Paperless ticketing will require a lot of education, it was suggested. Marion said people still lined up at the box office to get the “ticket” for a Brooks & Dunn paperless show to the point that they posted employees to head them off so they didn’t stand in line twice.

Alternative events are also on the rise and most of those mentioned revolved around food. Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky., did an Incredible Food Show featuring celebrity chefs and drawing 8,000 attendance in two days. Growers, producers and suppliers exhibited. Rich MacKeigan, Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Mich., hosts a Wine & Food Festival, which features 80 wineries and drew 10,000 people in two days. Jo-Ann Armstrong, Honda Center, Anaheim, Calif., said their Orange County Foodie Fest featured 50 gourmet food trucks and drew 8,000 attendance in one day (Venues Today, September 2010 issue).

“Food is a growth area right now,” MacKeigan said. — Linda Deckard

Interviewed for this story: Kevin Twohig, (509) 279-7002; Kim Bedier, (425) 322-2611; Lisa Chamness, (423) 461-4855; Matthew Batson, (239) 887-4979; AJ Boleski, (316) 440-9015; Ruey Peck, (800) 435-3865 x2406; Colleen Byrnes, (401) 788-3205; Sue DeVries, (406) 256-2412; Michael Marion, (501) 975-9030; Bob Skoney, (615) 862-6393

Ticketmaster Announces New Pricing System

26 Aug

Ticketmaster is moving toward an all-in pricing model and has begun to roll out a number of customer service initiatives to improve its image. Ticketmaster’s CEO for Ticketing Nathan Hubbard announced that the company is launching a new transparent pricing model for most of its events, and gave more details about the company’s new three-day return policy.

Hubbard shared the news on Ticketmaster’s new blog Ticketology (blog.ticketmaster.com), which Hubbard hopes will improve the company’s image with the public.

Ticketmaster, which merged with Live Nation earlier this year, is rolling out an up-front ticket pricing system that tells fans the final price of a ticket while browsing the site. Hubbard uses an upcoming Jack Johnson concert as an example — as fans browse over an interactive map, they are presented with an estimated price that combines the price of the ticket with the ticketing fees.

“The problem is that historically we haven’t told you how much you have to pay for a given seat until very late in the buying process,” Hubbard wrote in a letter to customers on Monday. “And our data tells us this angers many of you to the point that you abandon your purchase once you see the total cost, and that you don’t come back.”

Hubbard was careful not to call the system “All-In Pricing” because it still has a few limitations. Per order fees and shipping fees are still tacked on to the end of the purchase.

Ticketmaster “can’t boil all fees down to a per ticket fee until we know how many tix are bought and the shipping method chosen, so it has to happen later,” CEO Irving Azoff later wrote on Twitter.

Hubbard said the system won’t be rolled out across all venues because of contractual issues, but by the end of the week, most events will use the new pricing system. Hubbard also gave more details about the company’s new 3-Day Return Policy.

“If you buy a ticket in a venue operated by Live Nation, you now have three days to return it, up until one week before the show,” he wrote.  “We cut this off a week before the show because we need some time to be able to sell that ticket to someone else in case you choose to return it.”

Hubbard said he plans to carefully monitor the system to make sure it’s not exploited by ticket brokers, and invited other venue clients to adopt similar policies.

“We’ll handle the customer care at no additional cost,” he wrote.

Michael Marion from the Verizon Arena in North Little Rock, Ark., said his facility was one of three to test the new system during a trial run that began in April, and he’s only gotten positive response from fans.

“When I was in L.A., they pitched the plan to me and I thought it was a great idea,” Marion said, adding that Ticketmaster handled the implementation of the new system without much outside help.

The news brought a seven-percent spike in the share price of Live Nation, which had been battered by reports of lowered earnings in recent months.

“This is a sign that Live Nation and Ticketmaster are beginning to take some of their public relations problems seriously,” said Mark Mahany, an analyst with firm Piper Jaffry. “There’s hope that this move will improve their overall ticket sales and recapture some declining ticket sales.” — Dave Brooks

Interviewed for this article: Nathan Hubbard, (310) 867-7000; Michael Marion, (806) 378-9471; Mark Mahany, (415) 951-1744

Live Nation Seeks to Reassure Investors on Eve of NYC Meeting

20 Jul

Live Nation shareholders will converge at Irving Plaza in New York tomorrow for the company’s first Investor Relations event since merging with Ticketmaster in January.

Live Nation’s stock has dropped about 30 percent after capping out at $16.70 in late April. Nervous trading and concerns about concert cancellations might have led to a drop in nearly $1 billion in marketshare, but Live Nation still has one important believer — influential analyst Ben Mogil. His reports from firm Thomas Weisel in San Francisco are some of the most widely read on the stock (partially because he makes them available to the public). Mogil thinks problems at Live Nation are overhyped and expects the stock will return to about $17 per share, but he lowered that projection from $19.50 which he had forecast earlier in the year.

“Our new estimates are largely a result of the U2 tour postponement and we believe that some of the concerns over the amphitheater environment, while valid, are overblown,” he said.

Anaylst David Joyce from the New York firm Miller Tabak also said concerns about the company were exaggerated, and trimmed his projections to $19 per share long term, a 70 percent upside from where the stock is currently trading. He estimated attendance would be down approximately six percent  to 12.3 million tickets.

In terms of debt-to-profit ratio, “They’re in better shape now with Ticketmaster, and they refinanced a large part of their debt and don’t have any maturities coming due,” he said.

As for the cancellations, he said that the company’s core demographic of 16-to-24 year-olds faced high unemployment and that many are attending fewer concerts than usual.

“And let’s face it, some of these acts are just overexposed,” he said.

On Tuesday, Live Nation announced the rescheduling of its U2 360 Stadium tour for summer 2011, with 16 shows from May 21 to July 23.

“More importantly Live Nation and Ticketmaster have each been in the concert business a very long time and we cannot imagine that in coming up with guidance in the first year of their merger they did not factor in some margin of error as there are always tours in good and bad economies which simply do not meet expectations,” he wrote in his report.

Weisel said that while No Service Fee promotions have led to a drop in some revenues, it has increased attendance and ancillary spending and accelerated a move toward all-in ticketing “likely allowing for a stealth return of fees.”

While a number of amphitheaters have faced cancellations, many sheds still have a full season, according to Live Nation’s report. The Woodlands (Texas) Pavilion, Cruzan Amphitheater in West Palm Beach, Fla., and the Pacific Amphitheater in Costa Mesa, Calif., have had zero cancellations this year. Other venues haven’t fared so well. The Cricket Wireless Pavilion in Phoenix lost 25 percent of its summer shows, while the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Charlotte, N.C., canceled 6 of its 19 concerts and the Sleep Train Amphitheater in Wheatland, Calif., cancelled four of its 10 gigs.

Don Vaccaro of TicketNetwork, which is hosting its annual TicketSummit in Las Vegas tomorrow, blames discounting for Live Nation’s problems, and while he acknowledges it might serve as the company’s short-term saving grace, in the long run, he said it will hurt the company.

“The concert model will fail if promoters continue to discount tickets. Consumers will start waiting closer to shows to buy tickets, which means more cancellations from nervous promoters,” he said, adding that he thinks artists will eventually need to lower their guarantees, along with ticket prices, if a full recovery is to materialize. – Dave Brooks

Interviewed for this article: Ben Mogil, (415) 364-2500; David Joyce, (212) 370-0040; Don Vaccaro, (860) 870-3400

NY Law Puts Restrictions on Paperless

18 Jul

The state of New York has adopted the first law attempting to regulate the growing paperless ticket market. On July 2, New York Governor David Patterson signed the bill, limiting the ability of ticketing companies and producers to force consumers to use paperless tickets.

The law requires artists, promoters, sports teams and venues to purchase traditional paper tickets if the seller does “not allow consumers to transfer their tickets independent of the operator.”

The law essentially blocks a growing practice by Live Nation and its ticketing system Ticketmaster of blocking fans from reselling and even transferring tickets to high demand events. Under Ticketmaster’s present paperless system, only the original buyer of the ticket can redeem the ticket at the door using the credit card used in the purchase.

The law also provided an extension to New York’s ticket resale law, which had expired in June and had temporarily made ticket resale illegal. It also banned the use of computerized bots to purchase tickets.

The law is a win for ticket brokers and resale platforms like StubHub, which had lobbied hard to fight paperless technology as anti competitive and anti-consumer.

“The new law passing in New York is a great win for consumers, as it allows for a truly open marketplace,” said StubHub spokesperson Joellen Ferrer.

During a June 2 hearing on the bill, a number of sports executives testified about the impact of paperless tickets and several state senators indicated they were considering an outright ban on paperless tickets.

“We believe in and we support transferability,” testified Randy Levine, president of the New York Yankees. He argued that the technology is too new and that the state legislature shouldn’t yet put restrictions on paperless tickets until it was better understood.

“If an artist for a show wants to provide ticketing directly to their fan club, or decides to utilize paperless ticketing, it is the artist’s prerogative to do that,” said Joe Lhota, executive VP of Government Affairs for Madison Square Garden in New York. He said a number of artists have “initiated efforts to thwart the brokers and scalpers and to drive as many first-sale, face-value tickets into the hands of their true fans.”

Lhota said banning paperless ticketing will weaken the ability of artists to sell directly to fans and push concerts into other states.

“Paperless ticketing technology is evolving, and rather than ban or limit its growth in New York,” legislators should “pass legislation that will be flexible enough to create a transferable paperless option,” Lhota said.

The losers in the deal are ticketing companies like Ticketmaster, which had sought to corral the high prices associated with ticket resale, as well as artists and agents who wanted to limit the number of tickets that end up in the hands of scalpers.

Live Nation’s Investor Relations Spokesperson Linda Bandov said the company would not comment on the resale law.

Veritix also maintains a paperless ticketing system, although its system likely will comply with the law because under most circumstances, the platform allows for both paperless and traditional fulfillment of tickets (there are some events, like student ticketing for the Final Four, where only electronic tickets are issued).

“We believe wholeheartedly that there should be a free market opportunity to buy and sell tickets digitally,” said Jeff Kline, president, Veritix. “We’ve always believed that the content owner should choose how they distribute their tickets.”

Kline also said that paperless tickets are often misunderstood by lawmakers.

“There are people out there who think it’s restrictive, and actually it’s just the opposite,” he said. “Paperless ticketing provides the ultimate flexibility.” — Dave Brooks

Interviewed for this article: Joellen Ferrer, (415) 308-8209; Randy Levine, (718) 293-4300; Joe Lhota, (212) 465-6000; Jeff Kline, (216) 466-8055

Jeff Kline, the Future King of Colleges?

12 Jul

Cleveland-based ticketing company Veritix has signed one of its most high profile clients to date, bringing the National Collegiate Athletic Association into the fold with a deal to represent all championship events. The deal solidifies Veritix’s presence at the popular March Madness tournament and sets in motion plans to secure a number of other top rated college events. Venues Today recently caught up with Veritix President Jeff Kline to discuss the agreement.

Does this cover all NCAA championship games?

It’s for select NCAA championships because some will roll into our agreement as their current agreement with their provider expires, like the College World Series. We’ll be doing the Final Four this year in Houston, but some of the regional games will continue to be honored with different providers. The intent is for all NCAA Championships to roll into the agreement, which we’re thrilled about.

Does that include the Bowl Championship Series for NCAA football?

No, those are separate. The Final Four and the Frozen Four are included, and we’re in discussion right now for the College World Series, which has some time left on the existing agreement. We’ll also be doing archery, badminton and soccer plus a number of additional events.

How is Flash Seats going to be implemented in this agreement? Will it be a similar experience to purchasing tickets to a Rockets or Cavs game?

No. The agreement we have in place includes three components. Component number one is that we will be the exclusive ticketing provider for the select event. Part two is that the NCAA will use our platform to take reservations for subsequent championships, and then fulfill the orders. The third part of our agreement calls for the continued use of Flash Seats for student ticketing, like we have done for the last three years.

Will Flash Seats be used for resale?

No. We’ll provide the digital technology for the student sections where transfer and resale is not allowed.

And the tickets will be tied to their student ID cards?


Will you be active in trying to stop resale at the Final Four?

That’s really got to come from the NCAA. They have their own policies in place and we have the platform and technology to help them do that if they choose to do so. They have a current agreement in place with Razorgator to provide secondary tickets.

How was this deal reached?

It started two years ago at the Final Four in Detroit when the NCAA came to us, looking for an alternative platform for student ticketing. Not only is it meant to sit atop any primary ticketing system, it’s also portable. You can take a few routers and scanners and be set up. It worked so well that during this year’s Final Four in Indianapolis we repeated what we did the previous year. We went to a venue that had another ticketing company as their primary provider, we set up Flash Seats for student tickets, and emailed the buyers. Tickets were associated with their unique ID and they were able to gain access to the venue. Plus we knew who each student was because they couldn’t transfer their tickets. That gave the NCAA exposure to our company, and when they sent out an RFP last year, we responded and were awarded the business.

It’s a very prestigious client. Is this your first entrance into the college market?

No, we have Boise State on our client list. We also sell tickets for Texas A&M and Oral Roberts University. We are thrilled that we were selected and this opens the doors for us to have more opportunity in the collegiate space.

That part of the market seems to have a lot of opportunity. Paciolan just announced that it has re-signed 10 clients in the past 60 days. What is Veritix’s strategy going forward?

We see it as a definite opportunity for us. We’re in the collegiate space and it’s no secret that we don’t have as many collegiate clients as Paciolan, but there are plenty of challenges and opportunities.

It’s been about six months since the Department of Justice handed down the consent decree, essentially forcing Ticketmaster to spin off Paciolan to Comcast-Spectacor and license its software to AEG. The obvious goal of this agreement was to make the ticketing space more competitive. Has it worked?

Since the merger, we’ve seen the market opening up a little bit for choices. People are looking for alternatives and the adoption of Flash Seats continues to grow. Almost 70 percent of people coming to the Cleveland Cavaliers playoffs game were all digital. We did a concert in Houston where 66 percent of the people who walked through the door were digital, so obviously the adoption of our technology is growing. – Dave Brooks

Contact: Jeff Kline, (216) 466-8055

Feld Signs Up With TixTrack In Optimization Agreement

22 Jun

Feld Entertainment has signed a deal with firm TixTrack to license the company’s professional software service to track and optimize ticket sales for Disney On Ice, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and Feld Motor Sports events throughout North America. TixTrack’s web-based service will provide the company with real time seat maps and pricing scenarios for all its properties.

“I was interested in the system because it is compatible not just with Ticketmaster, which is used by about 80 percent of the venues we work with, but all the major ticketing firms,” including legacy Paciolan, Tickets.com and Veritix, said Jeff Meyers, Feld Entertainment Senior VP, Event Marketing & Sales, North America.

“Right now there’s no real tool out there that we use other than a simple spread sheet and diagrams that we color in ourselves of the venue maps to try and get the right scaling in place,” he said. “Their system gives us a much better ability to run better scenarios and optimize tickets in a quick and efficient way.”

TixTrack CEO Steven Sunshine said the platform is designed to overcome some of the limitations of today’s ticketing systems.

“It’s very easy to determine how many unsold seats there are for a facility, but to know where they are and what that means in how to better sell them is not so easy,” he said. “It’s harder to figure out, ‘Are all of those seats at the back of certain sections, or are they scattered as singles around the venues?’”

TixTrack is based in Pasadena, Calif., and has a number of clients in the entertainment space including the Harlem Globetrotters and Cirque du Soleil; venues such as Air Canada Centre, Toronto; Verizon Center, Washington; and Staples Center, Los Angeles; and sports teams such as the Los Angeles Clippers and Miami Heat. —Dave Brooks